The Cowboy Way: Lee Manzer
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Lee Manzer works a classroom like a pro. After all, now in his fifth decade of teaching at OSU, he is a pro.
Yet it’s not just his expert knowledge that keeps the 77-year-old Manzer a favorite among Oklahoma State business students past and present. There’s also the way he mixes a certain cool with comic relief, strolling classroom aisles in search of connection.
Manzer can be a bit ornery, passing out occasional playful jabs — and some have even evolved into signature sayings.
“Unless you’re a bully,” he says, “you tease the people you like.”
Manzer is no bully. He is, however, bullish on OSU.
He went to school here. Met his wife here. Saw three children and one grandchild graduate from here. Another grandchild is here now.
Manzer’s made his mark here, too: Outstanding Teacher in the Spears School of Business four times and OSU’s Teacher of the Year three. He has OSU’s “Loyal and True” award that recognizes long-term service as well as the 2018 University Professional & Continuing Education Association Excellence in Teaching Award.
A native of Hominy, Oklahoma, Manzer arrived at OSU in 1959. He completed his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, earned a master’s in business and later added a doctorate. After a stint at Dow Chemical, Manzer returned to OSU in 1975 to teach, and he’s been here ever since.
Manzer figures he’s taught more than 30,000 students at OSU. Thirty. Thousand. And every one of them is listed, along with their scores, in these vintage grade books. Sure, technology has advanced, but Manzer still records grades in the books first. “It got to a point where it was a matter of honor to keep doing that,” he says. He still has every grade book dating back to 1975.
With sun and cold alternatively taking aim at his balding head, Manzer sought cover some 15 years ago. Little did he know that he would unveil his own signature look with the tams he sports year-round. Manzer alternates his tams, opting for a heavier chevron-patterned version in the winter and a lighter tan look for the summer.
Union, Times Two
After his sophomore year, Manzer went on a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. His return was a game changer.
“It’s the best thing I ever did, because the first day of school I met Saundra, my wife of 52 years,” he says. “In August of 1963, I sat right down next to Saundra DeVore in the Student Union.” A union born in the Union.
At Cowboys basketball games, Manzer’s rather conspicuous in his striped official’s shirt. He’s a member of OSU’s stat crew, working as the official scorer. He’s been at it since 1983, spanning seven head coaches and including his son Bryndon’s two seasons as a Cowboy.
Loyal and True
Who better fits the mantra of Loyal and True than Lee Manzer? “It’s a lucky person who gets up in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, ‘I get to go to work.’ That’s been me,” Manzer says. “I’ve had a nice career: 43 years this summer. Gosh, just being around young people, and they think you’re halfway neat and you don’t have to pay their tuition? Everybody around here is always the same age; you don’t ever grow older. It’s just a fantastic environment.”